While we wouldn’t expect that many Ultimate-Guitar readers would have actively sought out "Live While We'Re Young", the new single from boy band One Direction, those that have heard it might have noted a distinct similarity between its introduction and a certain early eighties punk-rock classic. The track uses a guitar riff that is almost identical to the one prominently featured in "Should I Stay Or Should I Go", from The Clash’s 1982 album "Combat Rock".
And, as NME notes, a number of Clash fans have already taken to the Twitter to voice their complaints:
Writing on the social networking site, @joe_ridley said: "One direction stealing the start to 'should I stay or should I go – the clash' little sh-ts!" while @Guywoodgate1989 fumed: "I hope One Direction are paying royalties to The Clash for that crap rip off of Should I Stay Or Go opening riff." @GavanCasey, meanwhile, quipped: "One Direction's new song sounds like what I imagine Satan's tribute to The Clash would sound like, but slightly more melodic."
Of course, it’s not the first time that a pop band has been accused of recycling the riff of another act. Bands have been sampling the music of other bands and reworking their material into different songs for a number of years. The Who’s "I Can't Explain", for example, was reportedly created after a failed attempt by guitarist Pete Townshend to mimic the chords from The Kinks’ "All Day And All Of The Night", with Townshend even going on to state that the song "can't be beat for straightforward Kink copying."
But does this apparent act of pop music plagiarism by One Direction take things too far? Should the band be paying royalties to Strummer, Jones et al (given One Direction’s reported earnings of $100 million in the past two years, they could certainly afford to)? Or is the repetition of the iconic riff just an inevitability in the current music age?